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Holding On to Unrealistic Expectations

The word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
–1 Kings 19:9

Success in life is thrilling, but it can also lead to unrealistic expectations. For example, an author’s first book becomes a best-seller, but he is disappointed when his next book bombs. A pastor experiences growth for the first five years in his church, but those five years of growth are followed by ten years of stagnation and decline. An investor who has earned double-digit returns for five years is confronted with a 50 percent loss. What is the common denominator in those scenarios? It’s people who have unrealistic expectations. Success doesn’t always continue. That was true for Elijah. In 1 Kings 18:39, when the people cried out, “The Lord, He is God,” Elijah believed that the revival in Israel would last forever. That was unrealistic. The fact is, throughout the Old Testament, miraculous signs and displays of God’s power rarely produced lasting spiritual results. Elijah was holding on to an unrealistic expectation that led him to despair.

Believing you are indispensable can also lead to a bad season of life. When we think we are solely responsible for the success of our marriage, our children, our business, our investment portfolio, or our health, it causes pride. But when those things change, then we fall into despondency because we think, “If I was totally responsible for my success, then I must be responsible for this setback.” That is what happened with Elijah. He thought he was responsible for bringing a spiritual revival in Israel, so when the people turned back to Baal, he fell into despondency. We see this in 1 Kings 19. After Elijah had run from Jezreel to Beersheba, he went another two hundred miles and hid in a cave near Mount Sinai. Look at verse 9: “Behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” God was saying, “Elijah, I called you to be a prophet. You are supposed to be out proclaiming My word. What are you doing hiding in this cave?” I remember about thirty years ago, I felt like I needed extra income, so I thought I’d dabble in real estate on the side. I spent a week in real estate school getting ready to take my real estate exam. Then I sensed God saying to me, “What in the world are you doing in this class when I have called you to be a preacher of My Word?”

Elijah was discouraged because he thought he was responsible for the revival, and he thought he was responsible for the people’s apostasy. He felt the burden of all of it. He said to God, “I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (v. 10). God reminded Elijah that he was not alone. He said, “I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal” (v. 18). God was saying, “It’s not all on you, Elijah. I have other servants as well.” Every now and then God has a way of reminding us that we are not indispensable, doesn’t He? God was being very compassionate. He was saying, “Elijah, quit feeling all the pressure. It is My responsibility to bring spiritual revival to Israel.” Maintaining a healthy perspective on what’s our responsibility and what’s God’s responsibility can keep us from despondency when bad days come. Learning how to manage bad seasons is indispensable to experiencing an extraordinary life.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #6: Learn How to Handle Bad Days” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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